Why Cite Sources?
Documenting the sources of information used in your research is an essential step, as necessary as selecting, evaluating, and reading them. Reports of research and its findings are not considered valid and legitimate unless the researcher documents the resources and methods used to conduct that research. For a scientist, this entails a detailed account of materials and methods used in the lab or the field. For the social scientist, it may mean including copies of surveys, questionnaires, observations, or other methods used to gather information. For any researcher using verbal or graphic materials, regardless of the medium--print, Internet, film, photographic, microfiche, etc., it means indicating exactly what materials were used and what information came from which source. The purpose of this documentation is to allow other persons interested in the subject of the research to verify information or to carry the inquiry further. Accurately and completely documenting the sources of information used in a research report or essay is therefore essential to the scholarly conversation that is the whole purpose of research.
Styles of Documentation
Different fields of inquiry have developed different styles, or rules, of documentation. Fields in the humanities, like literature, religion, or philosophy, tend to prefer MLA style. History and some social sciences, like education, economics, or political science, prefer Turabian or Chicago style. Other social sciences and some sciences prefer APA. Scientific writing has many different formats, depending on the discipline. For more information see the "Guides to Scientific Writing" page. You should consult with your professor to determine which style you should use for any project.
Zotero is a free citation management tool that can automatically import citations into your personal account, organize sources into folders, and generate bibliographies in a variety of citation styles. It also includes a word processor plugin for formatting footnotes and parenthetical citations.
Zotero - Quick Start
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